Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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What next? None of the Cabinet is fit to remain in office


AT THE time of writing Boris Johnson has just topped a leadership poll of members of the Conservative Party by a crushing margin, second-placed Dominic Raab coming in at 13 per cent behind Boris’s 39 per cent.

In theory, it seems that a definite Brexiteer should succeed Remainer May. But the Byzantine or Machiavellian nature of the Conservative Party central office and deeply Remainer establishment means that anything could happen and be foisted on the membership. Let’s not forget that it was this Remainer cabal of anti-democratic managerialists that forced out the greatest Conservative PM of the last century or this, Margaret Thatcher. But assuming that the party and civil service mandarins, who are also Remainer fundamentalists, do allow a Brexteer to take the job, what happens next?

An intelligent and honest Brexit PM firstly and immediately needs to get rid of the main enemies of Brexit, the Remainer generals in that implacable anti-Brexit militia, the Treasury. Since Osborne ran his Project Fear and blocked any preparations by our great departments of state for a Brexit win, the Treasury under Philip Hammond has been a superbly effective army fighting for the EU and the thwarting of any real Brexit. This department now is almost certainly institutionally incapable of turning 180 degrees to mount a British campaign for Brexit, funding and planning for an independent UK as a trading partner of the EU rather than inside or under the EU. For example the tariffs issued by the Treasury were designed not to help UK trade after Brexit but to scare business and especially agriculture as part of Project Fear. 

As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues, a universal abolition of tariffs, with protection for food, would be a very attractive policy indeed and send out the message of a free-trading UK globally. The Treasury and Cabinet Office, however, will need uprooting to get such a radical but obvious plan implemented. The mandarins in the civil service will need to be given other jobs, as ambassadors to Albania and cultural attachés to Vladivostok, for example. John Redwood seems the ideal choice for the next Chancellor of the Exchequer with his financial expertise and knowledge of trade.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, notably its Europe desk dealing with the handing over of military command and control to PESCO under the hand of Sir Alan Duncan MP, will need complete reform and a return to the commonsense tradition of our military bond with NATO and the Five Eyes security alliance including the USA. The MoD itself, marinated in Eurofanaticism, needs urgent surgery. Crispin Blunt looks like a good bet for Foreign Secretary.

DEFRA under Michael Gove seems to have become an agency for promoting the alarm bells of the eco crisis: banning wood-burning stoves, the idling of motor car engines and gas-fired power stations. Attention to such matters as the UK’s capacity to fish in its own waters, to produce food efficiently, to become self-sufficient in for example bacon, pork and dairy produce, is of little importance. The UK would clearly need to use the power of the state to engage with such a huge change and use its money to compensate farmers in the early days, as Evans-Pritchard says, but that should be well within the capacity of any large modern state with the requisite will – and that of course is why the civil service has to be so radically challenged and instructed to take action, action it ought to have prepared three years ago. Owen Paterson stands out as candidate for running DEFRA in the interests of feeding the nation and getting good trading arrangements for exporting British products, notably whisky, ever more widely. It will be necessary to rebuild our fishing fleets’ capacities, train young men and women for the arduous task of fishing with attractive pay and conditions and protect our waters from rogue fleets, as did Norway when the UK surrendered its fisheries to a very late demand by France just before the UK signed to enter the EC in 1973.

May keeps talking of retiring but none of her Cabinet is fit to continue in office either. Their support for May and and her Trade Colony plan for Britain, a deep and duplicitous betrayal of the UK’s national interests, makes them unsuitable to be considered for key roles in shaping a post-Brexit future. They have failed intellectually and morally and need to retire for the standard peerages and gongs for doing a bad job. And that of course raises the issue of the future of the Lords and constitutional reform in the light of the chaotic shenanigans performed by Sir Oliver Letwin and his mates in the Commons as they took over the executive with a collusive Speaker when it suited them. The Lords is a disgrace in size, membership and bias. It needs pruning from its current 800 and growing to something like 100, with seats no longer going to party apparatchiks who have had their day. Likewise the honours system: no more Sir Humphrys please, they have had their massive pay and rewards even for national betrayals. A constitutional commission which does not appoint itself needs to be put in place to avoid the wrecking of referenda by MPs reneging on their electoral promises.

Additionally, the nation expects a very full record of all the negotiations done with the EU over the last two years, including Olly Robbins’s ongoing backstairs conversations and his Chequers planning, in all its detail. Destruction of any relevant notes, minutes and documents must be regarded as a very serious offence indeed: we need the full transparent records to be accessible for policy-makers.

To go back to the beginning, a new PM will need to declare the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration dead. Indeed he or she should commission a properly qualified team to prepare a case showing that this was an ‘Agreement’ always aimed, as the Verhofstadt documentary revealed with brutal clarity, at rendering the UK a ‘Trade Colony’ under EU terms and conditions. That surely means the EU was negotiation in bad faith and voids this grotesque treaty in law, along with its blackmail strategy on the Irish border. A new PM must be a positive Brexiteer, assertive not aggressive, breaking completely with May’s utterly passive appeasement approach. The task of recalibrating, especially the civil service, could hardly be greater.

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Timothy Bradshaw
Timothy Bradshaw
Timothy Bradshaw is a Theological lecturer and Anglican clergyman

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